Whales have "bungee cord" nerves in their very, very stretchy mouths
Scientists have figured out how rorqual whales can stretch their mouths to double the size while feeding. These massive whales have a bungee cord-like nerve structure in their mouths and tongue that allow expansion without damaging the nerves, according to researchers at the University of British Columbia.
In humans, stretching of the nerve usually damages it. But in whales, the nerve is coiled inside of a central core which allows it to expand without actually stretching.
"This discovery underscores how little we know about even the basic anatomy of the largest animals alive in the oceans today," says Nick Pyenson of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.